A Place at the Table

Never thought I’d see the day when as a 76 year old married gay man, I would be asked to facilitate a group of Catholics to discern thoughts to forward up the chain to Rome. Pope Francis call for the “faithful” to be involved in the upcoming Synod on Synodality, is a turning point from prior over controlled Synods with minimal lay persons input, to asking for the messy results that will inevitably hatch from small groups.

Reading about the German meetings on the synod gives me encouragement that at least in some quarters, bishops are willing to really listen. That has not been my experience in Canada so far. For most of my life I have been not only discreet, but frankly fearful to be fully transparent to episcopal authorities for fear of consequences – exclusion – criticism – labelling – rejection. Maybe this is a metanoia  moment. Praise God if it is.

You see, for many old gay Catholics like me, the impression I get is that its OK to be gay, as long as we don’t expect any change in how the church deals with us. Now all of a sudden it seems in 2022, the Vicar of Christ on earth is asking for input. And he’s getting it.

Recently in what has felt like the coldest Toronto winter in decades, and hopefully at the end of the covid restrictions, we are hearing about a few German bishops who are publicly proclaiming that no LGBT employees in their diocese will be fired due to sexual orientation. Some German bishops are even calling for blessings of same sex couples, something, I never dreamed of hearing in my lifetime.

I’m not personally needing this, but I have found it absurd that on the feast of Francis of Assisi, for decades many parishes have offered blessings of household pets. Yet a loving gay or lesbian committed relationship not only is ignored for a blessing, but publicly  vilified by some church authorities.

I recognize it’s complicated, and bishops want to reduce further polarization, but we are here, and that’s another reason why many LGBT don’t feel they have a place at the table. At the end of the day, when I do the examen, I am what I am, and can be no other.

Let’s pray that the Synod on Synodality is fruitful not just for those who already feel a strong right to be at the table, but especially for the marginalized: the poor, women, indigenous brothers and sisters, LGBT people, the mentally ill, refugees, and especially those who feel alienated and unwelcome.

John Montague earned his Master of Divinity from Regis College, University of Toronto. He is an active member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. He has a Master of Social Work, and, until his retirement, provided counselling to individuals, couples, and families. For seventeen years he organized a Day of Reflection for Catholic parents of lesbian daughters, gay sons, and transgendered children.

    Posted at 08:26h, 21 March Reply

    John you have always been a brave and yet tactful man in expressing views that have been in a lot of minds. We have been too fearful to express them. May you continue to be brave and continue to be prophetic.

  • Karen Arthurs
    Posted at 10:24h, 21 March Reply

    Amen to your thoughts, and indeed your notable point on the blessing of household pets.
    May the synodality lead us to respecting fellow humans as human beings, and peace leads us into a new era of understnding love and goodwill rather than the practise of exclusion.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 12:19h, 21 March Reply

    Thank you John!

  • Sheila Profit
    Posted at 10:05h, 22 March Reply

    Thank you so much for this John. Your input is so needed

  • Gus Kieley
    Posted at 18:30h, 22 March Reply

    Thank you John for your commentary and thoughts on this subject. We are a significant voice at last in affirming who we are. I belonged to ” Dignity ” and now ” all Inclusive Ministries “. Because of the people who came before us, we are now not threatened to stand bravely as who we truly are.

  • Mike Hyland
    Posted at 16:45h, 24 March Reply

    A wonderful post John! We are all hopeful of the day when our LGBT Catholic sisters and brothers can be seen, heard and take their rightful place in our local Catholic parishes. In the meantime we count on brave, articulate and honest Catholics to speak out.

  • Connie Shaw
    Posted at 21:36h, 11 April Reply

    Thanks so much John. I have long admired the way you minister with tact and truth. Please help the groups in your area to discern and witness and help the Church grow.

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